Should you take a statin drug?

Posted on October 17, 2009. Filed under: 1 | Tags: , , , |

If your blood cholesterol level is too high or your LDL- (bad-guy) cholesterol is too high you should follow a health-promoting diet to lower it. As outlined in my Blog “Lower your cholesterol” you can lower your LDL-cholesterol by 20-40% by following a low-fat and low-cholesterol diet and using soluble fiber (oats or psyllium), soy protein, and plant sterols. It is safer to lower your LDL-cholesterol this way and by taking drugs. If you cannot get to the LDL-cholesterol levels recommended by your doctor you may need to take a statin drug. You should read my blog “How low should your cholesterol be” to decide how low you want your LDL-cholesterol value to be and whether you should take a statin or other type of drugs.

Statin drugs lower risk of heart attack by about 25%, especially for men who are less than 60 years old (1). However they have side effects. They may cause muscle aching in one out of  ten people (2) with serious damage to muscles occasionally (3)  as well as problems with muscle tendons  (4). They also can affect liver function and irritate the stomach. I have seen all of these side effects in my patients.  Not uncommonly they may cause neuropathy (nerve pain or tingling) (5), infrequently cause decreased cognition and very rarely they can cause serious neurological problems such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease)(6-8). Because they may accelerate loss of cognitive function as people age, I agree with some experts who recommend that people over age 70 should not take them unless there are extremely strong indications (progressive coronary heart disease)(1). Informed patients receive better health care and I think you should discuss your need with yours doctors (primary care doctor and cardiologist or specialist) before deciding to take a statin drug.

Statin drugs decrease levels of Co-enzyme Q10 in the blood and body tissues such as muscles and heart (1). This can cause muscle aching and impair heart pumping action. Taking a supplement of Co-enzyme Q10 may protect from these problems. I recommend that everyone who takes a statin drug take at least a 100 mg gel capsule of Co-enzyme Q10 twice daily. I have done research with the brand Q-Gel® and am convinced that it is the most effectively absorbed form of Co-enzyme Q10.                                                                                                                                                                            1.    Golomb BA. Implications of statin adverse effects in the elderly. Expert Opin Drug Saf 2005;4:389-97.

    2.    Joy TR, Hegele RA. Narrative review: statin-related myopathy. Ann Intern Med 2009;150:858-68.

    3.    Mohaupt MG, Karas RH, Babiychuk EB et al. Association between statin-associated myopathy and skeletal muscle damage. CMAJ 2009;181:E11-E18.

    4.    Marie I, Delafenetre H, Massy N, Thuillez C, Noblet C. Tendinous disorders attributed to statins: a study on ninety-six spontaneous reports in the period 1990-2005 and review of the literature. Arthritis Rheum 2008;59:367-72.

    5.    de Langen JJ, van Puijenbroek EP. HMG-CoA-reductase inhibitors and neuropathy: reports to the Netherlands Pharmacovigilance Centre. Neth J Med 2006;64:334-8.

    6.    Muldoon MF, Ryan CM, Sereika SM, Flory JD, Manuck SB. Randomized trial of the effects of simvastatin on cognitive functioning in hypercholesterolemic adults. Am J Med 2004;117:823-9.

    7.    Cramer C, Haan MN, Galea S, Langa KM, Kalbfleisch JD. Use of statins and incidence of dementia and cognitive impairment without dementia in a cohort study. Neurology 2008;71:344-50.

    8.    Edwards IR, Star K, Kiuru A. Statins, neuromuscular degenerative disease and an amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-like syndrome: an analysis of individual case safety reports from vigibase. Drug Saf 2007;30:515-25.


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